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New executive order provides updates on Georgia scholarship deadlines

Among the new items in Friday's order is a suspension of the state's traditional requirements regarding the timeframe of appropriate test scores to be submitted.

ATLANTA — Governor Brian Kemp, on Friday, issued an executive order that could have major implications for students across Georgia.

Among the new items in Friday's order is a suspension of the state's traditional requirements regarding the timeframe of testing to be eligible for the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships.

In the case of the Zell Miller scholarship that graduates of eligible high schools receive a standardized college admission test score before graduation has been suspended for students who graduated in 2020 or will graduate by June 30, 2021.

The Georgia Student Finance Commission, instead, is being authorized to extend the deadline to June 30, 2021, for 2020 graduates and June 30, 2022, for 2021 graduates between January and June of this year.

The commission is also authorized to "establish rules and procedures" to retroactively award Zell Miller Scholarships to students who submit a "qualifying standardized college admission test score" by the new deadline.

Such requirements have also been lifted for ineligible high schools and home study programs where students completed their programs or graduated between March 14, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

Meanwhile, HOPE funds sent to students now-qualifying for the Zell Miller Scholarship will be returned. The order states that procedures will need to be established regarding these cases. 

Similar extensions have also been put into place for HOPE Scholarship eligibility, though this also suspends such rules for general education development diploma (GED) recipients where they had to previously meet requirements by an earlier date. As in the previous cases, students who complete homeschooling, graduate, or earn a GED between March 14 and Dec. 31 of 2020 can submit the proper scores by June 30, 2021. And those who received a diploma between Jan. 1 to June 30, 2021, will have until June 30, 2022.

The last year has been a tumultuous time for schools in Georgia - and across the nation - as COVID has forced many to close and others to take extreme steps to reopen safely. And some of those that have had to reopen have been forced to close once more when reported cases have grown.

While many schools have continued to have an at-home learning setup, the change to a digital venue has changed many aspects of the learning process for students and teachers alike.

The latest executive order is set to go into effect on March 16 at 12 a.m.